National City appointment goes nowhere, void remains

Four-person council again fails to find common ground on suitable replacement

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The National City City Council, during a meeting Feb. 5 at City Hall, failed for the second time to appoint a candidate to fill the seat vacated by Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis in November 2018.

Members of the City Council deadlocked or failed to garner enough support for individual nominees to appoint them to fill a council vacancy. An appointment would obviate the need for a costly special election.

The matter was continued to the Tuesday, Feb. 12, council meeting.

During a previous meeting Jan. 29, the council deadlocked on a 2-2 vote and, out of a field of 11 applicants, failed to appoint either of the two remaining applicants, Robert “Dukie” Valderrama and Ditas Delossantis Yamane; the matter was reset for Feb. 5.

On Tuesday more than 30 speakers were given one minute to provide their comments or read into the record letters of support for various applicants.

A staff report on the city’s website, and outlined during the meeting, set forth the two options to appointing a candidate:

Alternative one: Nomination from the list of 11 applicants.

• A member of the council nominates one of the 11 applicants to fill the vacancy;

• The nomination receives a second by another member of the council; and

• The mayor calls for a vote, and if a majority (three votes) of the City Council votes for the nominee, the person is appointed and sworn in, if they are present.

Alternative two: Nomination of a National City registered voter.

• A member of the council nominates a National City registered voter to fill the vacancy

and the nominee has stated that they will accept the appointment. The registered voter does not have to be present at the meeting.

• The nomination receives a second by another council member; and

• The mayor calls for the vote, and if a majority (three votes) of the City Council votes for the nominee, the person is appointed and sworn in, if they are present.
Candidates Valderrama and Yamane were not appointed after being nominated and voted on. Gonzalo J. Quintero was nominated by Ron Morrison but did not receive a second motion.

The candidates nominated under alternative two guidelines were Natalie Limbaga, Alma Sarmiento, Sherry L. Gogue and Vilavanh Singthirath. None received a second.

“I’m appalled at my perception of the hidden agendas,” said National City resident Bill Sendt. “The dynamics are unbelievable and dysfunctional.”

The City Hall chamber was filled to capacity and an overflow crowd gathered in the lobby.

“This is not a popularity contest,” said Eddie Perez.

“I love both of the final candidates,” said Mitch Thompson.

“Am I surprised? No they have to go through every process they can to get three votes,” said Valderramma.

“According to Roberts Rules of Order you pick up where you left off,” said Yemane.

“But they have to listen to proposals from staff and make a decision.”
Yemane was commenting on all other 11 applicants being brought forward to be re-voted on and the final two applicants, herself and Valderramma.

“I honestly do not know why we have not reached a compromise,” said City Council member Rios. “I’m hopeful we will.”

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